Contract vs perm: your top tips for making your mind up

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We’ve been running a campaign recently about the world of work, covering how you want to be recruited, case studies on how ARM candidates tackled new contract jobs and a light-hearted look at your first job. However, it was a feature examining the pros and cons of contract vs perm work that resonated the most with our readers. It’s clearly something that many people are contemplating.

That being the case, and ever wanting to be helpful, we asked our LinkedIn followers for their tips and advice regarding both contract and permanent work. Here’s what they said:

1. Test the water

Brendan Meyler: “Why not try a few short term contracts via specialist agencies who will look after your tax and social insurance, etc, then decide?

“Contract roles will give you more flexibility in your future career choices. You might then decide later that a permanent role suits you best. “

2. Have self-belief…

Matthew Morgan: “I just made the switch from perm to contract. One thing that prevented me from making the switch sooner was a lack of self belief that I was 'good enough' to make it in the contract world. ‘Have self-belief’ would be my advice, although I'm still not looking forward to my first period between contracts!”

3. …and confidence

David Smith: “Be confident, that’s a big one, and know you’re good at what you do. You need to know that you can deliver what you say you’ll deliver because you don’t have that same level of job security; you can’t just plod along. But I enjoy that, it’s pushed me up and kept me on my toes.”

Read about David’s experience of becoming a contractor

4. Keep on top of your tax

Tracey Thomas: “The decision really comes down to personal circumstances, the industry you work in and whether you can afford to be out of work.

“However, if, like me, do you become a contractor, always make sure you keep your Corporation Tax, Personal Tax and VAT (if registered) to one side. It can really mount up and catches a lot of people by surprise as you don’t pay it for a year, so you can easily overspend.”

5. Don’t be put off by notions of job insecurity

David Devine: “The main reason I only consider contract work is because it offers better job security. As a contractor, I have no fear of being paid off; I'm used to contracts coming to an end - it's nothing personal and after doing it a few times, you realise that there will always be another contract.

“Plus you get variety, and are continually progressing and learning methods that give you the edge. This permanent staff notion of job security is illusory, in my opinion. Because I’m in the driving seat, I always feel more secure.”

6. No really, don’t be

David Bastable: “During my 35 years in the field of engineering, I have noted from my experiences you are better off on contract. You tend to have more control over your continuity of work.

“I have worked for large and small companies in both job employment types, and would say, on the whole, I was laid off more when in perm roles than when I was in a contract. The term ‘perm’ is misleading.”

7. Think about being part of a team

Abhishek Upadhyay: “It all depends on the job profile. But generally I would prefer permanent over contract, as it makes me feel as a part of the team.”


8. Make sure you fully understand the difference

David Devine: “The difference between perm and contract, philosophically, is that contract is about giving up rights: working hours, employee rights and various welfares - from the number of toilets to sick pay. You give up these securities in exchange for freedom, flexibility, and money.

“This is the most difficult thing for new contractors to accept. It is a mistake to compare rates with other contractors, a mistake to add the loss of earnings to the price of your annual holiday, a mistake to try to compare with permanent packages of company cars, pensions, shares, fuel cards, sick days, insurance and so on. That is the clincher I think - for most people I have found over the years, this is the main concept to grasp.”

9. Weigh up the implications of both options

Fabio Cigoj: “Contract is fine if you have experience to sell, and somebody wants to pay the right price for it, but it limits you to short term objectives and to resolve immediate issues.

“Permanent pays less, but they don't kick you out - no matter how good you are - at the first sign of financial difficulties, and it allows you to shape your and the company's future on a much longer term basis.

“I guess both require careful selection of the company to work for, and the agent to help you find it.”


We spend a long time at work, and it impacts much more than simply our income – though that’s a big enough factor. Self-esteem, a sense of belonging, safety – all are shaped by our working environment. That’s why it’s important to consider what’s best for your own, individual situation.

Hopefully, these tips might help you come to a decision as and when the time comes to make that next professional move. If you are thinking about a new job, be it contract or perm, and would like some advice, get in touch. Our recruiters would be more than happy to talk through your options.